Originally published May 24, 2017 | Updated May 8, 2019

If you’re like us, you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of summertime. Warm breezes, lush flora and ample opportunities to spend time al fresco await you in the months to come. With its mild island climate and array of outdoor events and activities, Victoria, BC is the perfect choice for a quick trip to kick off your summer!

From kayaking and street markets to film and music festivals, there are more than enough things to load up your itinerary on a weekend getaway. Better yet, bring dad along for Father’s Day weekend (psst, the big day is June 16) and treat the family to some much-needed R&R! Whatever your summer schedule entails, BC’s capital city has got something to fit the bill. To get your travel planning started, here are 12 things to do in Victoria this June!

1. Discovery Island Kayak Adventure – now until September 8

Soak in Vancouver Island’s wild and rugged coastline from a unique vantage point on a kayaking tour through a scenic cluster of islands! Climb aboard the “Discovery Shuttle” in Victoria’s neighboring Oak Bay for a picturesque cruise to Discovery Island. From there, you’ll hop into a kayak and paddle around for a 3-hour tour of this distinctive ecosystem, guided by a local expert.

As you cruise around, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! The area is home to everything from seals and eagles to dolphins, orcas, and even humpback whales. After working up an appetite paddling, reward your efforts with a picnic lunch on the beach before the boat ride back to town. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

2. Oak Bay Tea Party – June 1 – 2

Enjoy two days of merriment and local entertainment at the 57th annual Oak Bay Tea Party! Festivities kick off Saturday morning with a parade through town, ending at the seaside Willows Park. The celebrations continue with a lineup of live music, air show antics, local food vendors and even a bathtub race! End the weekend with a bang at the carnival-style Midway festival offering rides, games and fabulous prizes.

3. Feast: Food & Film Festival – June 13 – 15

Take a selection of Vancouver Island’s best breweries and restaurants and combine them with three nights of food-focused films and you’ve got the Feast: Food + Film Festival. The event kicks off Thursday with a south of the border-inspired pairing: a screening of “Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy,” highlighting the career of the acclaimed chef known as “The Mick Jagger of Mexican Cooking” and some West Coast Ceviche courtesy of Cook Culture.

4. Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival – June 14 – 16

Follow the sounds of strumming banjos and thrumming upright bass to the inaugural Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival! Catch shows from artists like three-time Grammy nominee Claire Lynch, plus lots of local favorites such as Nomad Jones, The Sweet Lowdown and The High Quadra Ramblers. Tucked in the stunning Cowichan Valley, you’ll be located in the heart of Vancouver Island’s burgeoning wine scene as well as mere minutes away from hiking and cycling trails that wind past old-growth forests and tranquil lakes.

5. The Butchart Gardens Night Illuminations – starts June 15

Beautiful blooms and a fabulous Afternoon Tea service aren’t the only things The Butchart Gardens have to offer come summertime! Visit the world-renowned gardens during their Night Illuminations installation to see the gardens in a whole new light. Stroll amongst more than 3,000 light fixtures set up throughout The Gardens’ 55 acres to highlight the beauty of the grounds by night. (Insider tip: Be sure to stop by the popular Ross Fountain to see it come alive with a glittering light display!) Book this trip with Clipper, learn more.

6. Car Free YYJ – June 16

Join in on three days of spectacular cultural displays as the heart of downtown Victoria is transformed with traditional dancing at the Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival. Set on the outdoor stage at the Royal BC Museum, each day begins with performances from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, followed by shows from Aboriginal performers from across the province.

7. Ska and Reggae Festival – June 19 – 23

Cruise over to Ship Point in the Inner Harbour for five full days of laid-back tunes at Victoria’s Ska and Reggae Festival. Whether it’s local favorites such as Victoria’s own Sweet Leaf or legendary dancehall singer Sister Nancy, the good tunes keep coming every day of this lively downtown music fest. (Insider tip: Check back here to see when the festival announces this year’s workshop selection! Previous years have included attractions like documentary film premieres, panel discussions with features bands and other music-centric activities.)

8. Victoria International Jazz Festival – June 21 – 30

Head downtown for a night of mellow bass, soothing vocals and bright horns at the Victoria International JazzFest! As the longest running multi-day professional music festival on Vancouver Island, JazzFest has been offering its devoted audience a broad scope of entertainment for 36 years running. Spread across eight venues around the downtown area, the festival features jazz cats both new and old. Get the party started with Davina and the Vagabonds, or slow things down with a soulful performance from Elisapie.

9. Sidney Street Market – Thursdays until August 29

Spend a balmy Thursday evening strolling the streets of nearby Sidney during their annual series of Street Markets! Peruse booths by local vendors offering everything from baked goods and candy to jewelry and pottery, alongside a bevy of dining options from local food trucks. Find a one-of-a-kind souvenir from one of the artisan tents, grab some ripe summer berries from a produce booth and cap off your evening with a gluten-free mini pie courtesy of Bake My Day.

10. Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival – June 21 – 23

Join in on three days of spectacular cultural displays right in the heart of downtown Victoria! The Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival is back with even more thrilling traditional dancing and displays. Delight in music, dance, food and the arts from the First Nations’ people of British Columbia straight from the source.

Set on the outdoor stage at the Royal BC Museum, each day begins with performances from the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, followed by shows from Aboriginal performers from across the province.

With so many events and activities to choose from this month it’s hard to know where to begin! We suggest hitting the town and feeling things out when you arrive, after all, much of the city is easily seen by foot. In between stops, make time for soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the city in full bloom; June is the perfect month to get a jumpstart on the festivities around town.

11. Island Summer Games – June 21 – 23

The Island Summer Games are a fun and competitive annual tradition featuring sports for players of all ages, from soccer to bocce to basketball and ball hockey! Billed as “amateur sports and pro celebrations,” it’s a great way to bond with friends, family and fellow players on the island. Held in sprawling Topaz Park, it’s a great way to soak up some sunshine and get your blood pumping!

12. James Bay Community Market – Saturdays until September

Step inside this lively open-air marketplace and its obvious summer is just around the corner! Munch on local produce while you browse through handmade artisan wares. Wander between tents offering everything from handmade arts and crafts to locally grown fruit and vegetables and take the opportunity to shop for dad before Father’s Day! (Insider tip: Bring the whole family! With a children’s craft and activity tent and a face painting booth, there’s more than enough to keep the kiddos entertained.)

13. Bonus – Celebrate Father’s Day – June 16

Give dad an experience to remember with a day of exploration in Victoria! Dad have a taste for malted marvels? Toast to pops with a lineup of frothy suds on a tasting tour of the Victoria’s finest suds.  Is a day on water more his speed? Embark on whale adventure and seize the chance to meet mammal-eating (Bigg’s) or salmon-eating orca as well as humpback and minke whales on a Five Star whale watching tour.  History buff? Catch a Hop-on Hop-off & Craigdarroch Castle tour to explore the historic castle and dive deep into the culture of BC’s capital city. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

With this wide array of events and activities kicking off in June, it’s the perfect time to cruise up on the Victoria Clipper ferry for a weekend away. Stroll through outdoor markets, catch some stellar live music or take a quick trip to Mexico by way of dinner and a movie! With exciting cultural attractions taking place every week, Victoria is the perfect locale for fueling your pre-summer wanderlust.

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